New York State of Mind

Story telling about my daughter's life of 19 short years, I started a recollection thread, a series of posts looking at my life with Angel that ended twenty years ago - May 31, 1989.

The New Year 1985 brought Angela back to New York following the holidays in Omaha. We spent a few more months in the friend's apartment before securing a smaller apartment on the first floor of the same building. It was a rent stabilized building so it was really cheap for the Upper West Side.

It was a different world. Angela was ready to act out and be strong. I got a kick out of her bravado with her friends. She and I lived so close. Our apartment was so tiny we could touch the walls when we stood in the middle of the room. Her ability to live on an incredibly tight budget was a marvel compared to any kids I'd ever known. She shared all the tasks of living in the tiny space - including shopping and cooking. We did most everything together that first year as money was so tight. But, she and her friends had a ball with her new 35 mm camera. I will let the pictures tell the story.

School was a disaster in Manhattan. Angela was used as a tutor in her middle school and then she tested high enough to be able to enter the science and math high school, Stuyvesant. But, school didn't interest her. At one point she took a job at CBGB's without my knowing - a bar back - while underage. Later I got her a position at my Interior Firm after school as messenger and odd job person. Even though this required filing working papers, it was primarily so I could be sure she was safe.

For a period in 1986 this was spotty because she tried out other jobs too. Eventually she dropped out of high school and worked full time at my firm, assisting in the office management. This led to her taking over office management at age 17. She was paid $19K. I was really proud of her and I loved that we could work together.
We had moved to a great apartment on the Lower East Side, so our commute to the office across from the World Trade Center took minutes. We often shared a cab as it worked out to the same cost as the subway.

I was happy her beautiful hair finally started growing back when she was 18 - after the dreadlocks experiment failed. Angela had shaved her head at age 15 and gotten a nose ring - the punk style. For awhile she and her friends joined the Communist Party and went to camp. When she was at CBGB's she'd met the band the Bad Brains and for a time was nanny to the lead guitarist's kids. She also worked for the National Organization of Women for a time doing canvassing along with her best friend. She knew so many street people in Alphabet City on the Lower East Side that I knew she was protected, watched by those who were fixtures at Tompkins Square Park and the East Village. She taught herself early a kind of vigilance and ability to suss out situations in ways I found enviable. She often would nudge me towards 'heads up' attention.

She once told me, "Mom, I am living every teenager's dream." I had loved hearing this and I had enjoyed her trying on different styles and manners and ways of identifying herself. I knew how vitally important it was to becoming a complete woman, rather than living to everyone else's ideas. I knew she struggled with choosing the wrong guy, and I was pleased when she told me she was reading a good book about that very thing. I was thrilled when she left the design firm because she was going to take some college classes and try computer consulting. I never saw the flip side of her high hopes and plans until it was all over.

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